The Other Street View

The Other Street View Is a searchable database of Google Street View Images which correlates the built environment with the number of stop & frisks at each location. The database shows the extreme disinvestment that has taken place in the Brownsville neighborhood and begs the question of how investing in a neighborhood could decrease incarceration.

Using the database of vacant lots (Department of Sanitation, OpenNYC) a new database was created using street images from vacant lot locations in the two neighborhoods (the Upper West Side and Brownsville). The Upper West Side and Brownsville were chosen comparatively because they are relatively close in size and population, but vary drastically in support for their built environment. While special investment districts are created and park projects are funded in the Upper West Side, Brownsville’s streets are forgotten.

Top: The Upper West Side (population 153,883), Bottom: Brownsville (population 151,553) — 2012 Census by zip code

Meanwhile incarceration rates soar in Brownsville. Individuals from Brownsville are 5 times as likely to be incarcerated as individuals in the Upper West Side.

The Upper West Side (22 vacant lots), Brownsville (519 vacant lots) — Dept of Sanitation

In Brownsville, policing is omnipresent, with millions of dollars spent yearly to lock up citizens. What if millions of dollars were spent yearly on investing in sites where stop and frisks are reaching as high as 80 persons/year?

The Other Street View database visualizes the NYPD stop and frisk data from the center of each vacant lot. The result is a database sortable by features such as “Highest Stop & Frisk,” “Largest Lot Area,” or “Highest Residential FAR”. The intention is to move site selection based solely on profitability towards a selection process based on locations most in need of investment. This database allows planning and policy officials to work tactically with developers to invest responsibly in New York City’s urban environment.

The UI was developed in Processing and can be downloaded from GitHub. The street view images were downloaded using this Python script which you can read more about in this article.